I am elephant. I am rhinoceros. We are children of the Dark Continent, Africa. Our parents are of this land, as were theirs and theirs. Through the birth and death of stars and the rise and fall of empires the earth has held us in trust; she has kept her promise to guide us and we have kept ours to guard the secrets of forests, grasslands and desert, so she may live.
We know of the rise of rivers, swollen from so much rain, they run rapids, breaking their banks and tearing at the roots of acacia, which fall into foaming waters that roar their way to the deltas and then the sea. We know from our parents’ words when these same rivers run dry; where food can be found in droughts and where to smell for water ten feet or more beneath the parched skin of earth. We know of ancient pathways that lead to rock and valleys where water pools into granite basins waiting to be sipped. And we know of nights so dark that that no shadow survives them and of those made bright by the earth’s daughter, her only satellite our moon, or the tearing of the sky by the milky way, our galaxy and home to three hundred billion stars.
We know of sunrise and sunset, of our fiery star, the sun that draws an arc across the sky, defining day and separating it from night; we know of fathers, sisters, brothers and mothers; of birth and death and suffering and joy.
Human, your story and ours is very much alike.
I am elephant; you kill ninety-six of us each day for our ivory, for trinkets. I am rhinoceros; you kill two of us each twenty-four hours for our horns; for snake-oil medicine. It is predicted that we will not survive the next decade. From millions in numbers to hundreds of thousands, to thousands, to hundreds, to tens; from millions of years to hundreds of thousands, to thousands, to hundreds, to tens; will we too vanish like the early mist that is vanquished by the glare of the yellow sun?
Human, we are made of the same atoms that abandoned exploding stars so many millions of years ago. We, all of us are one. We, like you want to live.
By Rosemary Alles, March for Elephants
I am elephant. I am rhinoceros.